Small business in Bowling Green continues to thrive after major challenges.

For Keeps is a gift shop that is going strong after both the Great Recession and the pandemic.
Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 9:33 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Many small business owners have faced a lot of challenges in recent years.

Here’s the story of a Wood County business owner who navigated all the obstacles and came out on the other side stronger than ever.

For Keeps opened in 1997 as a general gift store that sells everything from home decor and accessories to pottery and quirky gifts.

The store has survived both the Great Recession and the COVID-19 crisis. The owner says there are some simple reasons for that.

Owner Amy Craft Ahrens said keeping the doors open all comes down to customer service.

“You’ve got to be nimble and open to change. We also have to make what we do all about the experience of shopping. People want to go into a store like ours with amazing smells and beautiful things to look at during the experience of shopping.”

Ahrens said her parents who are entrepreneurs in Bowling Green offered her advice, which she credits for her success.

“They told me to save all that money because you don’t know what is coming down the pike. It was the best advice I got because I needed all that money to get through the recession that hit in 2008-2009. When we made it through the five years or so of that recession, I remember telling an assistant at the time we can get through anything. then COVID hit.”

When the store was closed during the pandemic, Ahrens said an idea was born that’s still paying off today. The idea led to mystery boxes packed full of fun gifts. “We put together the mystery boxes based on a person’s likes and dislikes. We do all the work. We gift wrap it and mail it out and you’re done. That helped us get through the pandemic and helped me pay the staff during that period.”

Deb Baerwaldt is a long-time customer at For Keeps and a small business owner herself. She said support can come in a lot of forms.

“It’s not only about financial support. With social media these days you can share the story of a business. There are many ways to support a small business. Leaving a good review is also very important.” Collectively, these forms of support are what keep places like downtown Bowling Green booming.

For Keeps has a big celebration coming up on August 20th to mark its quarter century in business. To learn more, click here.

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